A mountain biker was celebrated on Tuesday at a rugby club in the small town of Malvern in the West England. Avie Richards finished seventh in cross-country racing, but seeing an Olympic heroine from your hometown in the Worcestershire Mountains is not every day. So dozens of people came to the rugby field for public viewing and happily waved their Union Jokes to celebrate Richards’ seventh place. This scene is reminiscent of a long time ago, when the British often wanted to participate and did not succeed. Because there are no victories in the Olympics anyway.
Those times are long gone. The twenty-year target fund for the 2012 home games has turned the former gray mouse Great Britain into an Olympic superpower. After many years of satisfaction with a total of five or ten gold medals, the British were consistently in the top four on the medal table since 2008. They have won 173 medals in the last three summer games. This year too, this trend continues.
With four gold medals in the first four days, “Team GB” got off to a great start in the modern era of the Olympics. Three of them quickly arrived, even on the same day that the British press quickly called it “Magical Monday”. After Adam Beatty became the first British swimmer to successfully defend the Olympic title, further victories in cycling and synchronized jumping. Things may continue over the weekend because Tina Usher-Smith is one of the favorites for the title in the women’s 100-meter dash. With a total of 27 medals so far, the British are set to break the record of 67 in Rio.
[Höhepunkte, TV-Termine und Zeitplan der Olympischen Spiele hier auf einen Blick]
In Tokyo, it shouldn’t just be about the number of topics. Before the games, there was talk in management that they wanted to define “absolute” success in the future. Unlike previous years, Great Britain is only setting a very tough target for the medal table in 2021 – among other things, to take the pressure off the athletes after a tough preparation. The way to measure success has evolved from Rio. Medals are important, but we know we need to expand our horizons, ”said Sally Munde, England’s general manager in early July.
It can also be seen as a substitute for slow-growing criticism. Destructive doping allegations in cycling have not been a problem in recent years: in many places, the whole motivational strategy is questionable. With target funding, you may have won a lot of medals, but is that enough?
Cultural change among athletes
“Encourage a generation” was the goal of the London Games in 2012, but now many are critical of the lack of sustainable finances and the boom in amateur sports. “You can see that gold medals are stupid after nine years,” the Guardian wrote a week ago.
In the generation after 2012, there seems to have been a clear cultural shift between individual athletes. Bradley Wiggins, the icon of the London Games, recently spoke several times about the spiritual and mental burden of success in home games. With athletes like Simon Piles or Naomi Osaka, questions like these usually come to the fore, It is no different with the British. As soon as the almighty Beatty in the pool won he was reminded that he was a man, not a machine. She talked about her young baby and the stress of having to give birth at the most crucial moment after many years of preparation.
Synchronized jumper Tom Daley, who was already an Olympic participant at the age of fourteen, was well aware of this pressure. When he finally won the gold medal on the fourth attempt on Monday, the now 27-year-old cried and dedicated his victory to the LGBT community. “I am proud to say I am a gay and Olympic champion,” he said.
Sprinter Usher-Smith is a similar role model. In 2012 she only worked as a volunteer and made her living in the shadow of stars like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Fora. But today she not only sees the new generation of torchbearers on the railways. In interviews and in his own newspaper column, he speaks openly and balanced about topics such as stress, racism or menopause, which is one reason he became a British figure in Tokyo.
Even if Saturday is not enough for the gold medal it will remain the same. Because the sports culture on the island is slowly changing. Stay away from the medal and flag frenzy of the last decade and move towards a new level of wisdom.
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